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The Bainbridge Miracle

And here we are, on the West Coast, more than 8,000 kilometers farther down the road. We'd been wanting to see Seattle for a long time. Why? Well, why not!

Time flies on the road and there's not much free time, oddly enough. I imagined myself peacefully reading my Tocqueville and other readings on Gettysburg and the American Civil War. I though I would read a few pages a day, at the very least. But that wasn't realistic, considering all the driving (there is so much road to cover) and the complicated routine of camping.

And then, of course, the technical and mechanical challenges. While we were in Idaho, an electrical problem arose. Some electrical outlets stopped working, and the refrigerator was going straight to propane, refusing to remain in electric mode. We figured that since this was an electrical problem, we should probably leave it to the experts.

We headed to Camping World in Idaho Falls and were lucky to get a last-minute appointment. The service manager was super courteous and kept us informed of the work. $400 later (ouch) it was fixed. Well, at least we only had two hours of waiting around and we got a good service! Case closed you might say, but no, if only....

The next morning, the problem returned... What to do? We were in Boise by this time, a few hundred miles away from Idaho Falls...But Camping World is a chain, so we dropped into a branch and though that we would surely be able to find some help and avoid having thrown $400 out the window... we wish…

To make a long story short, the Boise branch turned us around. The only option they had was for us to leave us your RV with them for 7 to 10 days so they could do work on it when they had time to do another diagnostic (i.e. another $400)...well, dear clowns, do you think that we'll be living in the Camping World parking lot during that time – this is our house you are talking about! What's more, Stéphanie was in communication with the Idaho Falls branch and had the privilege of being lied to on the phone and sent packing there as well.

Life can be cruel at times, but you have to keep things in perspective. Not everything was working in the motorhome, but the essential things were functioning fine. So we took a breath and hit the road again. We knew that this problem had to be solved without dying from electrocution or frying the RV's electrical system. Camping World's original diagnosis indicated a problem with a specific electrical outlet that prevented the others (connected in series) from working. We're talking about normal outlets, not GFCI outlets, and if you say that all I had to do was press the reset button on the GFCI outlet....I’m going to scream…

Suspense here! I'll come back to our electrical adventures later for the denouement. I know you like it when we talk about our problems, you peeping toms! 😊

So we continued our journey to enter Oregon. Wow, this is a beautiful but drought afflicted state. From this 12th U.S. state, we then entered Washington, our 13th state visited so far! Quite a change of scenery here on Interstate 84, with mountain passes at altitude (4000-6000 feet) and the return of tall conifers (Caravan Guard did it like a champ!) but with the same aridity. It doesn't rain much in Oregon and Washington during the summer (but the locals have the same fixation on watering their lawns, the more fortunate ones at least).

A truck accident in one of the mountain ranges stopped us before we reached Baker City, so we had to turn back and wait for part of the day in the city of Ontario. It's one thing to climb in altitude, but coming back down is just as taxing, as you have to use your brakes and compression carefully, while remaining "fast" enough not to get mowed down by the heavy truck trains that are driving at breakneck speed behind you!

Then we bypassed the city of Tacoma (yes, same name as the Toyota pickup!) and headed a little north to reach Bainbridge Island and the park where we were going to camp. A superb island (rather plush, I would say) with a ferry system providing access to Seattle. The first glimpse of the campsite was idyllic, with beaches on the edge of Puget Sound and a view of the mountains and Seattle in the distance on a clear day. The reality, however, was that this was a strange campground with sites overlooking the parking lot, no dumping possible, traffic from visitors coming to the park and toilets that saw the light of day when JFK was president and distracted managing the missile crisis! A single shower for men and the same for women....(no, not a gender-neutral shower, just a crappy one), and what a shower it was!

But hey, we had access to public transit ($2/adult) to get to the ferry ($20/round trip for the family) and disembark in downtown Seattle. Not bad at all. Being a fan of grunge music, I was really looking forward to it.

So what does Seattle look like? A city built on slopes, with a “je ne sais quoi” that reminds us a little of Vancouver and its Pacific vibe. There's so much to do. Our choice was the MoPop (Museum of Popular Art), with its crazy exhibits on Nirvana, Jimmy Hendrix and Hip Hop music, as well as permanent exhibits on horror, science fiction and fantasy worlds. The kids chose the Aquarium and were charmed by the stations where they could literally "grope" starfish, anemones, sea cucumbers, crabs, shrimps and more.

We made a stop on the famous monorail, a legacy of the 1962 World's Fair. Stephanie told us that this was the same model of monorail as the ones we find at Disney, built by the same company only two years before those that were made for Mickey (leave it to her to find Disney in Seattle!). Well, there are only two stations on the Seattle monorail (which cost us 21$), so that's that. There's also the famous Gum Wall, which is absolutely disgusting, and the Pike Place Market, which is a must-see - what an atmosphere! We went for fish and seafood (Francis now loves crabcakes). The kids happened upon a huge urban par with 20 slides that were 20 feet high (the best park of their lives, they screamed!). Above all, we did a lot of walking around the city. Verdict: We all want to come back!

At the time of writing, we're at the foot of the majestic 14,000-foot Mount Rainier, a national park where we'll be camping without services, but with a river of glacier water flowing at our feet. We'll be here for 4 days before making a final stop in Oregon and finally entering California.

Oh yes, our electrical problem. Well, plucking up courage, we bought ($20) and changed an electrical outlet after inspecting them all. It's not as simple as changing a plug at home, and it took the better part of a day! Obviously, the faulty socket wasn't the one Camping World had identified... By the grace of some god or goddess or incredible luck, we solved the problem with the fridge and some of the sockets. Hallelujah! This was the miracle of Bainbridge! There's still another outlet to change, as it's showing signs of weakness, but we will get to it in due time. The culprit: 8000 kms of vibration!

N.B. The cost of living in Oregon and Washington is very different from the Midwest. Fuel prices have gone up more than a dollar a gallon and the grocery basket has gone up 20-30%. In addition, Washington has a nice 10% sales tax and we haven't seen anything yet because it's worse in California. Gonna have to eat ramen 😊

P.S. Do you recognize this three? Answer is below under the picture in small font

Monkey Puzzle Tree ou arbre de puzzle de singe

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